Environment

At the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington, the race is on to clean up radioactive sludge buried in aging underground tanks. Some of that waste has already leaked into the soil not far from the Columbia River.

Attempts to use high-tech robotics to hose out waste tanks haven't gone as planned. And an important federal cleanup deadline is fast approaching. Anna King has visited one of the Hanford tank farms several times to see what’s causing the delays. She shares this first person account.

North Idaho Couple Celebrates Property Rights Victory

Mar 21, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A north Idaho couple is celebrating a major legal victory at the nation's highest court. Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Mike and Chantell Sackett have the right to challenge a decision by federal regulators that their property is a protected wetland. 

Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

SSA Marine has submitted a permit application to build a bulk export terminal in Bellingham.

If approved, the terminal will be large enough to handle up to 54 million metric tons per year.

That could include wheat and grains but the majority will be coal. It will be delivered by train from mines in Wyoming and Montana – and then shipped out of Washington to Asian markets.

About 100 people gathered outside of Bellingham high school on Tuesday night to protest the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal.

Interstate-5: It’s Electric

Mar 19, 2012

It’s getting easier to take an electric car on a Northwest road-trip. I-5 is going electric.

There’s a Chevron station just off of I-5 in Central Point, Oregon. You can buy gas there. Its more than $4 a gallon. Or you can plug in an electric car for free, and charge it in about 20 minutes. The Oregon Department of Transportation has just opened 8 stations like this one in Southern Oregon. Neil Appleton lives in Grants Grants pass. He brought his electric Nissan Leaf.

“I’ve had it close to a year. Seven thousand miles and not one drop of gasoline."

What's Next For Wolves After Court Decision

Mar 15, 2012

BOISE, Idaho -- The wolf hunt in Idaho will continue through June in part of the state. That’s because Wednesday the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Congress’s decision to strip federal protection for wolves in Idaho and Montana. Aaron Kunz has reaction to the decision.

BOISE, ID – Idaho lawmakers signed off Wednesday on a plan that limits local control of oil and natural gas development.  But even supporters  say this legislation isn’t perfect.

Idaho Senators debated for nearly an hour on the powers of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  Under this bill, the agency has final say on where to drill for wells and how to develop the industry.  Democratic Senator Diane Bilyeu from Pocatello hoped to allow local governments to call public hearings on future developments.

Natural Gas Promoted As Cheaper Fuel For Trucks In NW

Jan 20, 2012
Tom Banse/N3

SALEM, Ore. – Natural gas prices are falling and likely to stay low for the coming years. That’s because of the dramatic increase in domestic gas supply from new drilling technologies. Oil prices on the other hand are rising again.

People in this region’s trucking industry are now taking a hard look at switching to natural gas as a motor fuel. But some significant hurdles remain before you’ll see a lot of natural gas-fueled trucks on the road.

BOISE, ID – A just-released study from the Environmental Protection Agency shows Idaho far ahead of Oregon and Washington in toxic chemical releases.

Idaho reported a total of 67 million pounds of toxic chemical releases in 2010.  That’s nearly double Washington and Oregon’s combined total of 38 million.   Graham Kirn with the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle says the mining industry is a major source.

Graham Kirn:  “The metal mining releases in Idaho alone are greater than the total releases in the entire state of Washington or the entire state of Oregon.”

Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

If you want to make it in the animal kingdom you’ve got to adapt. Take our canine companions. At one point they were wolves. But over the course of thousands of years they realized that by hanging around people, life got a lot easier.

A new study out today suggests hatchery fish may be taking a lesson from lap dogs when it comes to adapting to life in captivity.

Mark Christie, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and an author, explains:

 

Boise’s city council voted unanimously Tuesday to sell Hammer Flat to Idaho’s department of Fish and Game. Each member spoke in favor of the move as the best way to preserve the important winter wildlife habitat. But each councilor also expressed the same reservation.

The issue that gave Boise’s city council pause was recreation. The 700 acre plateau north-east of Boise isn’t just used by deer. It’s popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers and others. Fish and Game deputy director Jim Unsworth says that won’t change.

Cleaning Up the Boise River

Dec 9, 2011

BOISE, Idaho — In a survey that was conducted for Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Public Television and other public media stations, Northwest residents say their top environmental concern is water quality protection.

Aaron Kunz has more on a river in Idaho, where residents are working to reclaim it from a legacy of pollution.

The survey, conducted by DHM Research, asked what concerned people the most out of ten categories. All three states in the Northwest indicated that water quality is the problem they care about the most.

BOISE, ID - The New York-based greek yogurt maker Chobani announced its plans to build a multi-milion dollar manufacturing plant in Twin Falls this morning.  StateImpact Idaho Reporter Emilie Ritter Saunders has been following the event and talks to Samantha Wright.

Idaho Sockeye Count Exceeds Expectations

Sep 20, 2011
Aaron Kunz/EarthFix

BOISE, Idaho — This year might not be a record year for Idaho’s endangered sockeye salmon. But biologists with Idaho Fish and Game say the returning adult salmon count is already above expectations for the year. They get an idea of those numbers during the annual “Sockeye Roundup.” Aaron Kunz takes us to the roundup to find out how sockeye are doing.

Two dozen people drag a massive net that stretches across the clear waters of the Salmon River. They are helping round up dozens of red sockeye salmon that can’t make it back to Redfish Lake.

Ashley Ahearn/EarthFix

10 years after the tragic events of September 11, securing our borders is still a pressing issue for politicians on both sides of the aisle. But for some in Congress, national security and environmental protection can’t coexist.

A new bill introduced by Representative Rob Bishop of Utah would allow unhindered development within 100 miles of an international border or the U.S. coastline, as long as it can be justified as necessary for national security.

(Ashley Ahearn reports.)

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